Tactical View: Bayern can expose Spurs’ defensive deficiencies


TACTICAL football boff Chris Bland (@blandc_1996) gives us the lowdown on Tuesday night's Champions League cracker between Tottenham and Bayern Munich. 

Tottenham v Bayern Munich | Tuesday 1st October 2019, 20:00 | BT Sport

Tottenham host Bayern Munich in the Champions League on Tuesday as they look to build on an opening draw at Olympiacos.

After a shock EFL Cup exit to League Two outfit Colchester, Spurs responded with a hard-fought win at home to Southampton, despite Serge Aurier’s red card after 33 minutes, which will give them a much needed confidence boost before this heavyweight clash.

German champions Bayern Munich were given a scare by newly-promoted Paderborn on Saturday, holding on to win 3-2, a result which leaves them unbeaten after six league games and top of the Bundesliga.

Opening their Champions League campaign with a 3-0 win at home to Crvena Zvezda, the Bavarians know they could deliver a damaging blow to the Premier League team here.

Where Spurs can get the upper hand

Mauricio Pochettino often looks to rotate his side, and I am expecting the same once again in this busy period for Spurs. A red card on Saturday will have added to fatigue, but Aurier should start at right back after Davison Sanchez’s struggles in previous games in the same role. Ben Davies and Danny Rose are also yet to convince at left back, and they will be a target for Bayern’s wingers and full backs.

Pochettino opted for a slight tweak in formation on Saturday, starting Moussa Sissoko, Harry Winks and Tanguy N’Dombele as a midfield three, with N’Dombele the most attacking of the three. He rewarded his manager’s decision to play him in this role with a goal, and he will be hope to continue here.

The Frenchman will offer much needed energy and protection further forward in the midfield, coming up against a team that dominated possession, as well as offering them a chance to break quickly in transition with his drive on the ball.

Against Arsenal and Manchester City, Spurs looked to sit deep and hit the teams on the break. Although both games resulted in draws, they rode their luck in both defensively, particularly against City where the Expected Goals (xG) count read 0.07 to 3.20 in the Citizens favour.

Although there are worries defensively, Tottenham do possess immense talent on the break, and this will be key to breaking down Bayern’s defence. The Germans look to attack wide, utilising full backs David Alaba and Benjamin Pavard, and this will leave space in behind on the break for the likes of Lucas Moura and Heung-Min Son, depending on who Pochettino decides to start up front.

As touched on earlier, the drive of N’Dombele in the midfield will further add to this counter attacking approach, and will represent Spurs’ best chance of netting on the night.

Bayern’s alternative approach

Bayern have switched between a 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-3 this season, but will most likely field a 4-2-3-1 against Spurs, as they look to utilise Philippe Coutinho in an attacking midfield role. He has started to settle well since his summer move from Barcelona with two goals, two assists and two key passes per-game – stopping him will be one of the hosts’ major tasks.

Averaging 62% possession in league games, Bayern will look to dominate the ball. Joshua Kimmich and Thiago Alcantara have been key in doing this, and Kimmich in particular has shone once again in the midfield holding role. With three assists already this season, he averages 90% pass accuracy, as well as three key passes per-game, so Tottenham will need to find a way at stopping him from dictating the play.

Kimmich looks to pick the ball up deep from the centre halves along with Thiago, who also has impressive ball retention statistics (92% pass completion), and if Tottenham do choose to press them, they could easily be passed around by this pair.

Bayern will opt to be patient on the ball, so as a result I expect Tottenham will look to frustrate them for long periods by sitting deeper, before looking to utilise the counter attack as explained previously.

Bavarian threats

Robert Lewandowski comes into the game in exceptional form, with 10 goals in six league games already, plus one in the opening Champions League game. A complete forward, he is capable of scoring any type of goal, meaning Bayern offer a threat from crosses, as well as working the ball into the box for the Polish striker.

It is worth noting that Lewandowski is overperforming is own personal xG (6.87) by three goals, but in this sort of form, he is still an appealing option to score.

In wingers Serge Gnabry, Kingsley Coman and Ivan Perisic, Bayern possess vast options and have the potential to do damage to the already frail back four of Spurs.

As alluded to before, full backs have been an area of concern for Spurs this season, and they will look to target them once again. Bayern look to control possession, but if required they are also deadly on the counter, with the pace of Coman and Gnabry a particular concern.

Coming up against often rash and forward pressing full backs in Rose and Aurier, Bayern will look to exploit this, particularly if they are in front and Spurs are forced to come out and play.

Gnabry and Coman are also both suffering two fouls per/game, which isn’t a surprise given their ability and tendency to take players on, and brings into play the card markets. Coman is also completing three dribbles per-game, and will be a nightmare for any full back to deal with, so it could be a long night for Tottenham’s struggling full backs.

The betting angles

It is hard to see past a Bayern win. Although they could be frustrated for long periods by a stubborn Tottenham team, the hosts have shown against Arsenal and Man City that even when sitting in they have defensive frailties, where they were saved by poor finishing. As a result, it is hard to oppose Bayern at above evens (23/20 BetVictor).

As touched on already, Lewandowski comes into the game in red-hot form, and even though he is overperforming his xG quite significantly, he should still get enough opportunities against the struggling Spurs defence. Priced at evens on SkyBet, it represents a value bet, giving he is averaging over a goal a game already this season.

Clement Turpin has been appointed referee for the game, and in four Ligue 1 matches this season is averaging three yellow cards. This is in line with his average last season, where he was averaging 3.30 per-game.

Counter attacks will play a big part of this game, and as a result I can see cynical fouls being the order of the day to stop them, especially given both side’s reliance upon full backs pushing high to provide width, which subsequently leaves them exposed.

Both Rose and Aurier are priced at 11/4 (Unibet) to be booked, and up against two tricky wingers who will constantly look to take them on and have a tendency to be fouled, either option represents value.

Best Bets

Tottenham v Bayern Munich – Bayern Munich to win (23/30 BetVictor)

Tottenham v Bayern Munich – Robert Lewandowski to score at anytime (1/1 SkyBet)

Tottenham v Bayern Munich – Serge Aurier to be carded (11/4 Unibet)

Tottenham v Bayern Munich – Danny Rose to be carded (11/4 Unibet)

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